A magisterium of nuns

In this matter of contingent, prudential judgments, whose judgment will in time prove to have been the more prudent?

The Catholic bishops with pro-life groups or their opposition, the LCWR and CHA and NCR, etc?

I happen to think the bishops are right and the CHA and NCR and LCWR are wrong.  I think the bishops are right this time, not because they are bishops, by the way, but because they happen to be right.  Even if there really is a barrier between federal money and the procuring of abortions, a barrier which might allow a Catholic legislator in this byzantine tangle to vote for the bill, is that barrier going to stand?

Or will it – as I fear it will – open the gates to direct federal funding for abortions?

At this point I doubt many people are going to change their minds about their positions.

Therefore, I have this to say to those Catholics who support the passage of this bill.

I am speaking especially to the women of the LCWR and the CHA and the dissenters of the NCR.

No one is going to forget that you supported this bill when, in years to come, your barrier did not hold and children are being killed with tax-payer funding.

In years to come, you will be held accountable by Catholics on the street.

You will be held responsible for this and you will be made to answer for this down the line.

You will be responsible for federal funding of the most extreme form of child abuse.

You are in for a Dante-esque contrapasso in decades to come.

Dear readers, think about how these same people scream for the heads of bishops and priests who years ago harmed innocent children.  Today those who support this legislation have in the past also relentlessly pursued bishops and priests who, 40 years ago, showed compassion – rightly or wrongly – in trying to rehabilitate priests who harmed children.

“If we only knew then what we know now…”, people will say in years to come, just as they do now about child abuse in years past.

“What harm we could have avoided if we, moved by compassion, had made a different prudential judgment!”

When federal funding for the extreme child abuse of abortion starts to flow, I suspect people will find you, Sister – Reverend Mother – Sister “President” – in the same kind of nursing homes in which various groups have searched out priests who abused children decades ago.

Organizations will be formed, seek you out, and extract your public mea culpas because of your “prudential” judgments today.

Sisters… what you are doing is WRONG.

Your magisterium of liberal nuns has told us that if only women had been priests or had been in power positions, then maybe there wouldn’t have been a crisis today with sexual abuse of children.

Is that so?   Perhaps if there were men in power positions in the LCWR and CHA we might avoid the abuse to come.

You tell us, Sisters, that out of compassion for the poor we ought to take the risk that federal funds, in a worst case scenario, might go to pay for abortion.

I think that is the wrong prudential judgment.

The bishops are right and you are wrong.

They are right, not because they are bishops, but because they are neither naive nor governed by false compassion…nor false motives.

And I think we must, Sisters, question your motives.

This moment, Sisters, will come back to haunt you.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Classic Posts, Magisterium of Nuns, Our Catholic Identity, SESSIUNCULA, The Drill, The future and our choices, Wherein Fr. Z Rants and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. TJerome says:

    Good points, Father. However, unless these orders of women religious reform themselves they will not be around to reap the whirlwind. They will just be a memory.

  2. I think you are dead on Father. WE MUST QUESTION their MOTIVES.

    On my blog, I put the juxtaposition up of pictures from the website of the LCWR and the CMSWR. I think you and your readers know how that will look visually.

    But because the LCWR published their letter in an unsolicited way… they seem to have a motive. If it wasn’t unsolicited… there is an even larger motive, and their ally is someone other than the Church.

  3. HamiltonMom says:

    I hope and pray that the bishops will read Father Z’s points!

  4. Papabile says:

    There has been a political shift here on the Hill. One can feel it. The Democrats are happilly pointing out to the recalcitrant pro-lifers that even Catholics are divided.

    This does not bode well.

    I pray they don’t, but fear they will have a majority by the time the vote happens on Sunday.

  5. wanda says:

    Thank you Father Z. These things needed to be addressed and directly to those who are in error. I hope and pray that these Sisters will seriously search their hearts and souls and quickly find themselves in prayer and repentence. They are causing great harm and confusion among the faithful.

    I’ll be praying for the lives of un-born children who are in grave danger if this legislation passes. Will these Sisters be able to live with the result?

    We all have to stand alone one day before Almighty God, I wonder what these Sisters will each have to say? I expect He will wonder how they cared for the weakest, most vulnerable among us…innocent un-born children.

  6. EXCHIEF says:

    Wouldn’t it be really, really wonderful if a group of young, vibrant, in love with Christ nuns–as opposed to the old hag nuns who are in love only with themselves–came out loudly in support of the Bishops position? I’m thinking of the nuns, wearing habits, who recently wowed viewers on national television. The name of their order escapes me.

  7. capchoirgirl says:

    Bravo Fr. Z!
    And EXCHIEF: They did! Read it here. http://www.cmswr.org/ click on the red banner to see it.

  8. Oneros says:

    I think we need to question a lot of the conservatives’ motives too, though, if the comments section in that post a few days ago is any indication. It turned into a big tirade against “illegal” immigrants and “socialism” that had nothing to do with abortion. So don’t think the Right might not have impure motives for opposing this too.

    This time, it IS a prudential judgment. I’ll side with the USCCB, but the groups in question don’t support abortion in principle or practice.

    There is just disagreement about whether the Senate language does, in fact, put a barrier between federal funding for abortion or not. I’ve seen some indication that it might in fact have such a barrier, though I’d like more information and will err on the side of caution until I get it.

    If that barrier could come down…I seriously doubt that the slightly stronger language of the House bill couldn’t like-wise come down too.

    If the bill does federally fund abortion (and right now there are conflicting reports)…it should be opposed for THAT reason. But a bill good-in-itself should NOT be opposed merely for hypotheticals about what “could” happen in the future based on some vague slippery slope argument.

  9. The-Monk says:

    In re: “You are in for a Dante-esque contrapasso in decades to come.” I believe this to be the case, but not quite in the way Fr. Z envisions.

    When these religious are wards of the “nanny state” they advocated and are deemed “not worthy of continuing to live” and thus bypassed for expensive medical procedures and medicines, they will regret not understanding what they got themselves into as they bought into the culture of death. That’s when Geryon will appear at their bedside!

    Geryon, described in Virgil’s Aeneid as a “three-bodied shade,” is one of Dante’s most complex creatures. Possessing an honest face, a colorful and intricately patterned reptilian hide, hairy paws, and a scorpion’s tail, Geryon represents fraud (Inf. 17.7-27)—the realm to which he transports Dante and Virgil (circles 8 and 9) and will transport these religious. By comparing Geryon to a sullen, resentful falcon (Inf. 17.127-36), Dante also adds a touch of psychological realism to the episode: Geryon may in fact be bitter because he was tricked–when Virgil used Dante’s knotted belt to lure the monster (Inf. 16.106-23)–into helping the travelers. Dante had used this belt–he informs us long after the fact (Inf. 16.106-8)–to try to capture the colorfully patterned leopard who impeded his ascent of the mountain in Inferno 1.31-3. And, these religious allowed themselves to be duped by their anti-Roman Catholic Zeitgeist.

    Suggestively associated with the sort of factual truth so wondrous that it appears to be false (Inf. 16.124), Geryon represents a double negative…just as these religious did when it came to the culture of life.

  10. pcstokell says:

    Sister Walsh with the USCCB Media Office would seem to agree with you, Padre: http://usccbmedia.blogspot.com/2010/03/and-then-there-were-nun.html

  11. ipadre says:

    These “Sisters” could not have chosen a better time to show their true colors. What time is that you ask? It is the Vatican investigation of US Religious Sisters. Those of us who live on these shores know the depths of the problems and the need for “true” reform among them, and if they fail to respond to the Holy Spirit moving them through the voice of the Church, we just wait it out until the dissident orders cease to exist.

  12. TJerome says:

    Next time they ask for money for the old dolls’ retirement fund, remember this betrayal of Christ and His Church. Just say no!

  13. Rob in Maine says:

    I work for a Catholic Hospital, so I guess ultimately, I work for CHA.

    Back when they broke ground for our new hospital building, they brought out the old nuns who still wore habits for the big photo op. Many where in wheelchairs. The “Nuns of Power” as I call them, stood in the back wearing their pant suits.

    Why is it that the Nuns of Power stood behind the good women who looked and acted like religious? Why was the image of woman in habits more important to convey then who the leadership really was? The Governor and Bishop stood in the front row….

    The scene made me shake my head.

  14. Cristero says:

    EXCHIEF: the Sisters you are thinking about, are I beleive the Dominican Sisters of Mary.


    You can find them here: http://sistersofmary.org/index.php

    You are spot on, Father. Z.

    Today I have learned about Geryon. Have to go read some Dante tonight. Thanks, MONK.

  15. boko fittleworth says:

    They’re accountable to God, and they’re in big trouble. But I fail to see how they’ll be held any more accountable in this life, by the Church hierarchy, than all the other heretics, rapists, liars, and murderers whose paycheck has come out of the collection basket lo these forty plus years. [I didn’t write that they would be held accountable by the hierarchy.]

  16. Nora says:

    And the Church says “Amen”. …protestant background creeping through, LOL. Cleanse that temple, Father, cleanse that temple.

  17. avecrux says:

    Amen (and I do not have a Protestant background).

  18. brianwalden says:

    Don’t hold back, Father. Tell us how you really feel… ;-)

  19. Bill in Texas says:

    Another important update on CatholicVoteAction.com — http://www.catholicvoteaction.org/americanpapist/index.php?p=6433

    It seems the signatories to that CHA letter represent only a few hundred nuns. And one of them signed twice.

    So it isn’t 59,000 nuns. That number is way too high, possibly by a factor of 100x.

    Time to write some editors.

  20. Widukind says:

    So sad, but how do you reach them? [Perhaps you can’t.]
    Most priests I know shudder when in the
    presence of such nuns, and will have nothing
    to do with them. These gals are hungry and have
    only one thing on their menu, hot and tasty
    “orchids”, especially the ecclesial kind.
    To tangle with them is to be emasculated
    by them, and they do not think twice about
    it. It is as if they have centuries of revenge
    pent up to wreak upon the clergy for “injustices” done
    to them. However, a good percentage of the laity
    see right through the thin “veil” of their
    nunniness, as they simper with compassion and nuance,
    and claim to be prophetic (or, should it be “pathetic”?)
    But, the poor sisters just do not get it,
    and fail to see how they are alienating
    themselves from the church. Playing upon the
    traditional image of a nun, those not of the church
    will turn and listen to every word they spout off,
    whether right or wrong, and say, “Well, after all,
    Sister said it – it has to be right! You know, you never argue with
    a nun.” Perhaps though, it is time to start arguing with them,
    regardless of what’s on the menu.

  21. Cavaliere says:

    But a bill good-in-itself

    Wow talk about hypotheticals Oneros. There is a lot wrong with this bill besides abortion and it should not be passed regardless but especially because it does not include clear prohibitions against abortion funding. Because if there is one thing about fallen human nature and especially politicians is that if it isn’t clearly and explicity forbidden, eventually someone will find a way to do/include it.

    If Nancy Pelosi et al weren’t already ready to exploit the loopholes they know are there then they could have passed this bill months ago simply by including what would essentially be redundant language if their assertion were correct. Since they refuse to do that it can only be because they know the truth and they plan to fund abortion with federal dollars no matter what type of shell game they decide to play with our money.

    Now there is much wrong with our system but as Catholics we should stop deferring to either political party to get things straightened around and start shaping the reform. As Cardinal Pie said last century, until you Catholicize the institutions then whatever good you build up during the day, the devil will tear down at night. In the case of this bill, something is not better than nothing.

  22. lacrossecath says:


    What is our common Catholic Identity

  23. lucy says:

    Amen !

  24. Glen M says:

    Amen Father.

  25. What about all the nuns who are not listed who support this bill? I know several in my own area who are not against this bill and feel that the bishops are “too conservative”. I have given up trying to convince them otherwise, but they are in love with the democratic party and its leader and cannot see, or refuse to see the danger. Some of these sisters are now in education, of both children and adults, and are spreading their evil views in and out of the classroom. What can one do when the educational institutions where they work support them and refuse to step in and correct their opposition to the USCCB?

    What can one lay person do against the clergy and sisters who band together against our dear, brave bishops? I no longer know what to do but fast and pray….

  26. MarkJ says:

    Read this at LifeSiteNews “Architect of Betrayal?: WH Exposes Obama as Provocateur of Catholic Dissention”

    The article begins with this:
    “WASHINGTON, DC, March 18, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs revealed to reporters today that President Barack Obama actively promoted the Catholic Health Association’s public break with the American Catholic bishops to support his health care legislation.”

    Obama is blatantly anti-Catholic. Another reason to mistrust him on everything, especially this bill.

  27. Jacob says:

    Double post, but this caught my eye:

    From their point of view, government-run health care is their only ticket to a trouble-free old age. If they don’t throw their weight aboard now, the train might never leave the station. So, they’ve climbed out and have begun to push.

    They don’t really give a damn about the women who will be injured by abortion or the children who will die as a result. Those young girls – both the girls in the womb and the women carrying them – were never going to join their Magic Circle novitiate anyhow. To hell with them.

    An excerpt from this post on how the revenue streams are all but gone…

  28. MarkJ says:

    Also on the LifeSiteNews website: “No Mention of Abortion in Health Bill “Fix” Package”

    By Kathleen Gilbert http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2010/mar/10031809.html

    WASHINGTON, DC, March 18, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The health care reconciliation “fix” package, which was posted on the House Rules Committee website Thursday afternoon, makes no mention of abortion, dashing any remaining hopes that the legislation that the House votes on will not include a vast expansion of abortion funding…

    …The Catholic Health Association (CHA), whose endorsement of the bill earlier this week was welcomed with open arms by the Obama administration, had excused their support for the abortion-expanding bill by expressing hope for an abortion “fix” in the reconciliation measure.”

  29. ckdexterhaven says:

    Let’s pray for our Catholic Representatives, Democrat and Republican. I truly don’t understand how a true Catholic could be a democrat right now, with the pro abortion positions, but I digress…

    I posted on a Dem (undecided) Catholic’s Facebook, that he consider his eternal soul, and the souls of unborn children. A LOT of people replying to me, mentioned that a)I was mistaken, that the bill doesn’t pay for abortions and b) that a group of nuns has come out in favor of the bill. It made my heart sink, but just galvanized me all the more to keep praying, praying, praying.

  30. zama202 says:

    The sisters aren’t misrepresenting the Catholic faith – and I don’t blame them at all. They stopped being Catholic a long time ago. It is the useless bishops – who did not strip them of their “catholic” designation – that are to blame.

  31. Consilio et Impetu says:

    As far as I am concerned, too many Male and Female Religious Orders, Congregations, etc. have gone too far in too many areas concerning what is of God and what is of Government. I am not saying they should sit there and be quiet; however they do need to be obedient to the teachings of the Church as they are, not what their interprutation of the teachings are; the same for Diocesan priests and deacons. The Church is IN the world but not OF the world. Too often they use the copout “WWJD”. Read the Gospels, the answers are there.

  32. Dear Consilio,

    Sisters in active orders work in schools, hospitals and other institutions which are partially governed by state and federal rules. Therefore, such Catholics who come up against, for example, a lack of a conscience clause in a health bill, must take a stand, even if they are nurses or administrators who are sisters. Nuns, technically of course, stay in convents or monasteries and pray-the term nun really refers to cloistered nuns and not active sisters.

    We have a long history of active orders in the United States, and have several saints who broke through state and federal barriers to set up black Catholic schools, such as St. Katherine Drexel, for example. One cannot separate the life in the world of education and health care from Catholicism, even if one is a sister.

  33. bookworm says:

    It just so happens that today, the Illinois Supreme Court decided to disallow property tax exemption from a Catholic hospital on the grounds that it didn’t provide sufficient levels of charity care:


    This case was being watched nationwide and could have implications for Catholic and other non-profit hospitals throughout the country.

    Now in light of what’s been going on lately, I am torn about what to think.

    On the one hand, I can’t help but suspect this is a terrible decision, marking yet another attempt to drive Catholic hospitals out of business and force everyone to depend on the government for their healthcare.

    Yet, on the other hand, in light of the Catholic Hospital Association selling their souls (literally) for Obamacare, I can’t help but think… maybe this is a GOOD decision… perhaps a bit of temporal punishment due to their collective sin? If Catholic hospitals think government paid healthcare is so wonderful, then maybe it’s only right they help pay for it. If they want to be just like any other business, then let them pay taxes like any other business.

  34. bwjb says:

    Excellent post, Father. As always, you are refreshingly direct.

  35. Mrs. O says:

    They may not live long enough to see the disaster if this bill is passed.
    But, I am not backing the bill even if the Bishops back a version.
    That is just my own opinion though, I am not pretending to represent all the Nuns in the US though.
    That was very deceitful.

  36. Dear bookworm,

    To a woman and a man, all the people I know who work in Illinois health care who are Catholics are absolutely opposed to the Obama Health Bill and are really worried about it. Such great hospitals as St. Francis in Peoria, which has a special care of preemie babies can face outright persecution through the new bill. Where I live now, none of my Catholic doctors, specialists and nurses are for the health bill, either. They are all worried about their independence to work in a Catholic health care system which allows them to practice their Faith. There are no abortions at our local Catholic hospital. I have three dear friends who are Catholic doctors and they are absolutely against this bill.

    I think you would be surprised at the number of Catholic health care workers who stand by their Faith and are truly worried about the future if this bill passes. One of my friends already stated he may have to shut down his practice, as he cannot support abortion in any case.

  37. bookworm says:

    Supertradmom2: I realize that. I didn’t mean any offense to the many faithful Catholics who don’t endorse Obamacare in any way and I apologize if I did seem to be condemning them unfairly. The scandal and bad witness these nuns are giving must be especially painful to them.

    I have to admit I have been feeling particularly bitter and cynical of late, and couldn’t help but think that maybe the CHA better be careful what they wish for, they might get it.

    As far as tax exemption goes, though, I wonder if Dorothy Day wasn’t onto something when she decided NOT to seek tax exemption for any of her Catholic Worker houses and other institutions. She felt that works of charity should be done for their own sake and that the government had no business either encouraging or discouraging them. What Caesar gives, Caesar can just as easily take away.

  38. MarkJ says:

    Once this Health Care Bill passes, if a Catholic Hospital refuses to play by Obama’s rules, do you think the hospital will be allowed to play a part in this Socialist system being set up? And with the rider on the Health Care fix bill in place requiring ALL STUDENT LOANS to go through the government, guess what will happen to faithful Catholic Colleges?

    It’s all about control.

  39. I have told the youth in my extended family that they are not to take out any more loans from the government for college. I saw this coming in 2008, when in the politicking for the presidential election, something of this sort came up. Number one, students who have the new type of loan will not owe a middleman any money but the government directly; 2) those students who cannot pay will be forced into working for the government directly in order to pay off the bill-perhaps as “Hitler youth”. And three, the colleges who do not take any government money directly, such as Thomas Aquinas College, will last and those which compromise, such as my once beloved Notre Dame, will not last or become completely secular. This is why I have always supported NAPCIS schools, as they are private and take no government money, as a rule. Most parochial schools I know do and that is one reason why the curriculum is so bad in those schools.

    What happens in the health industry will happen in education. That is what atheistic socialism is all about…

    Such will happen to every Catholic hospital and clinic

  40. EXCHIEF says:

    Let’s not forget that the very system under which Obama was schooled (Marxism) has historically viewed the Catholic Church as its most formidable enemy. Any wonder why Obama tries, covertly behind the scenes, to divide and destroy the Church in this country. The man is evil and a tool of the devil.

  41. Those who hate the Church hate Christ, the Son of God Himself. Where are Stalin, Hitler, Mao, now, besides in the notes of the president’s supporters speeches, and on the ornaments of his Christmas tree?

  42. Adam Welp says:

    I am going home this weekend and will ask the Pastoral Associate at my home parish, whose order is a member of the LCWR but did not sign on to the letter, what their stance is on the letter from LCWR to congress. I will post my findings here.

  43. edwardo3 says:

    Is this really in any way a surprise?

  44. John 6:54 says:

    Are we sure we have this turn the other cheek thing defined correctly? I guess we should never trust a sister that doesn’t wear a real habit.

    This is whole thing is so agrivating, somewhere out there some people are going to snap due to the insanity of it all.

  45. TNCath says:


    Father Z., this might be the finest posting you have ever written!

    Thank you very much!

  46. kelleyb says:

    I have spent the day in prayer and fasting for the defeat of this abomination. I believe it is the vehicle by which feds will move us in short order to a single payer system which will finance all abortions. In a few years when the system is overwhelmed, I believe that ‘people’ will demand that the sick elderly, the sick infant and severely disabled be ‘humanly’ killed. It will not be long before anyone seriously or critically ill will be killed involuntarily. It is, after all, as Rep. Stupak said…it is all about the money…and,I believe, control.
    The only way to accomplish this is to silence the Church. Many pro-abortion Catholics are paving the way.
    God have mercy on us.

  47. Laura says:

    I’m with Oneros and his/her comment above. I think both sides (the politicians, not the Bishops) are using the pro-life cause as a play.

    I wish they would all just drop the abortion issue and pass a bill that helped people get health care (like the straight forward kind of care).

    Every time I make a political statement, or comment on a political issue, I feel dirty and just wish I would have not entered into it.

    And Kelleyb, a single payer system doesn’t mean the picture you paint above. After living in Italy or years, where you can get the care you need and not go bankrupt, it can be done and not mean killing babies and old people. If the Italians can do it, why can’t we?

  48. VEXILLA REGIS says:

    The Nun who heads the “Catholic”Healthcare is reputed to be on a salary of USD850,000p.a. Is this not an obscenity! And dare such people talk about concern for the poor? The Priest who sold out Our Lord to Obama the First( now seen repeatedly taking off his jacket when addressing the crowds – a la Juan Peron the Argentinian Dictator)at Notre Dame is reputedly on a salary of USD 650,000 p.a.Vows of Poverty? Now there is no Obedience. What hope for the remaining Vow,or perhaps…The scandal of this type of “Religious” needs to be vigorously addressed “root and branch”.It is no good deferring it for fear of scandal – we already have scandal writ LARGE.These people ar feeding comfortably off the Catholic Church and people and then spitting in the plate. They are revolting in more ways than one . They must be removed for the HEALTH of the Church. Knot a cord and drive them out – there is a Precedent.

  49. TNCath says:

    Laura: “If the Italians can do it, why can’t we?”

    I go to Rome at least once a year, and I love Italy very much. Regardless, Italy would be the LAST place I would want to be if I fell ill and needed medical care.

  50. kelleyb says:

    I pray you are correct. The US currently has over $100 Trillion in unfunded mandates. We can not pay for the entitlement programs we are already obligated. The unintended consequences of this new entitlement will explode the rosy financial picture that the CBO reports based on all the congressional smoke and mirrors. CBO gets the positive numbers only by the collection of 6 years of taxes-fees in advance,and expending funds on medical care for 4 years. After the initial cushion is spent, the financial explosion begins. There are no requirements in the current Senate or House bill to actually SAVE the collected taxes. If history teaches anything it is that Congress will raid the funds for other uses. There are no lock boxes.
    Health care reform needs to be done in a thoughtful manner that takes into consideration the consequences of those changes. The administration’s rush to get anything into law does not bode well for the country-or the elderly or the innocent children.

  51. Central Valley says:

    So close to Spy Wednesday, have the “sisters” received their thirty pieces of silver?

  52. Peggy R says:

    I picture a remake of “They Were Expendable.” I envision the visages of sweet infants, the elderly, and images of others in wheelchairs, or attached to medical machines helping them breathe or feeding them.

    The rebellious sisters are the directors of this new film. Obama is the financier.

    St. Joseph pray for us.

  53. canon1753 says:

    I don’t think I’ll take up the religious retirement collection this year. I’ll suggest to my parishioners to give to cloistered Nuns whose communities are in danger due to not being able to afford insurance that they will now be forced to buy. OF course the network crew have plenty of money to pay insurance, since they are the ones with hospitals who will make a killing on this…..

  54. frjim4321 says:

    Regardless of one’s point of view, it can be argued that this is an extremely historical time for the U.S. Church. The public disagreement between CHA and the USCCB is without recent precedent. It is certainly a dramatic exchange of views. Whichever way it goes, it seems that both Bp. George and Sr. Carol are sincere in their views; but perhaps the dynamic tension between the two will cause conscientious Catholics to examine the issues carefully and come to an informed conclusion. Fr. Jim.

  55. Oneros says:

    “if it isn’t clearly and explicity forbidden, eventually someone will find a way to do/include it.”

    The Hyde Amendment is not affected by this Bill. Federal funding for abortion is still prohibited.

    That’s not the problem that the bishops see. I’ve done a lot of research today and these are the facts (which a lot of people don’t seem to know, they’re just going on hearsay):

    The current bill DOES prohibit federal funding for abortion. Period. That’s just a fact. Any abortion coverage would have to be paid for with private funds separate from the federal credits used to buy the rest of the policy.

    The current bill DOES require each State Exchange to have at least one “pro-life” policy that doesn’t cover abortion. Pro-life people who are really serious about it can choose that.

    Where the problem comes in, according to the USCCB and other pro-life groups, is that the OTHER policies on the State Exchanges may (and probably will?) contain abortion and, though that portion of the policy will be paid for with private funds, anyone opting for one of those other policies will be REQUIRED to send in a private check (about $1 a month) for the abortion portion. You either have to accept it, or opt out of that policy completely and choose the “pro-life” one; you can’t opt out of just that portion. But, then again, no one HAS to choose one of those non-pro-life policies in the first place, there will be a pro-life option.

    So, it comes down to this: the bishops think it is wrong that you can opt out of a policy with abortion completely by choosing the pro-life policy, but can’t merely opt out of the abortion PORTION of if you choose one of the policies that DOES have abortion.

    Now, I agree this is wrong, and won’t support the bill because of it. Because, let’s say you have sick kid or are disabled in some way…and though you could choose the “pro-life” policy that each State Exchange must offer…you realize one of the other policies is really better for your specific needs. And yet, if you take THAT policy, you have to send in private money to cover abortion.

    So you’re left with a (potentially heart-wrenching) choice of whether to choose the pro-life policy that may not be ideal for your needs, or to pick a policy that perhaps better fits your needs (but then have to pay for abortion coverage).

    That’s a terrible choice to force people to make, and the bishops oppose the bill on those grounds, and so will I.

    Then again, some would say better an unideal policy that at least meets your conscience…than no coverage at all.

    In the end, if they are really serious about pro-life…they CAN still choose a policy that doesn’t cover abortion. And the money being used to pay for abortion definitely ISNT federal funds.

    So, in terms of “bare minimum” Catholic ethics…the bill does pass; no federal funds go for abortion, and an individual can choose a policy that won’t require you to cover it privately.

    Whether the fact that you can’t opt out of paying for abortion coverage IF you choose one of the other policies (which you don’t have to do)…should sink the bill, IS a prudential matter that Catholics MAY legitimately disagree on.

  56. Oneros says:

    “If Nancy Pelosi et al weren’t already ready to exploit the loopholes they know are there then they could have passed this bill months ago simply by including what would essentially be redundant language if their assertion were correct.”

    Honestly, I think at this point they WOULD do so, except that they can’t change the Senate bill anymore since they don’t have the votes in the Senate anymore. They’re stuck; the House has to pass the bill the Senate passed previously, or nothing. Stuff like this was supposed to be smoothed out in a conference comittee…but they lost the votes in the meantime.

    Likewise, the Reconciliation process can’t pass abortion language that isn’t a budgetary issue.

    Trust me, I’m sure Nancy and Co. would be doing whatever they needed to right now to get the bill to pass. If they could change it, I’m sure they would in a heartbeat. I’m sure they regret their past stubbornness on the issue.

    But they can’t change it anymore. They no longer have 60 votes in the Senate, and with that stupid Filibuster (which they should just nuke, in my mind) they can’t alter the bill anymore. Any corrections will have to happen later.

  57. Oneros says:

    “The US currently has over $100 Trillion in unfunded mandates. We can not pay for the entitlement programs we are already obligated”

    Read up on Social Credit. Money is an abstraction.

    If the concrete goods and services exist and are happening…then the “money” is not a problem. It’s just numbers. What is physically possible…can be made financially possible.

    There is no Absolute Shortage of healthcare in the US. People get healthcare when they need it, they just go into personal debt to do so.

    Basically, this program would replace personal debt with government debt. Better for the individual, but even that is needless; if the services exist, the “money” shouldn’t be a limiting factor…what is physically possible, can easily be made financially possible.

    “Debt,” especially in cases like this, is a joke: you can’t borrow services today against the future! It’s not like you could have saved up today’s time and effort by a doctor for tomorrow!

  58. robtbrown says:

    And Kelleyb, a single payer system doesn’t mean the picture you paint above. After living in Italy or years, where you can get the care you need and not go bankrupt, it can be done and not mean killing babies and old people. If the Italians can do it, why can’t we?
    Comment by Laura

    Because the Italians and the Euros don’t do it. The national health care systems in Europe have universal access to primary care, but access to specialized care is limited. A patient is put on a list and has to wait his turn. Further, the care is not as good. I have friends in Italy (the husband Italian, the wife American). He needed heart surgery, and he left Italy to have it done.

    Further, there are some drugs available in the US that the national health systems refuse to use due to the price. For example, Temodar, which was used to treat Ted Kennedy’s brain tumor, is not used in England’s national health system. A patient can pay for it himself, but that means he has opted out of the system and must pay for all his care.

    BTW, did you notice the Canadian Provincial governor who came to the States for heart surgery? If Canada’s national health system is so good, why didn’t he get it down there?

    And the Euro systems are also having financial problems because they are subject to factors that are seen in the US: Demographic changes and a rapidly growing assortment of new diagnostic and treatment procedures. Even so, Americans make more use of medical services than other nations. For example, last year there were 8.3 times the knee replacements in the US than in England (581,000 to 70,000), but US has only 6 times the population.

    It is total fairy tale that Euro nations have the same health care as the US does.

  59. wanda says:

    Oneros, There is abortion funding in this bill, believe it, like it, or not. Haven’t you noticed how ‘quiet’ Planned Parenthood has been? ‘Be vewy, vewy qwiet! Ssshh. All we have to do is wait all little longer, the Pandora’s box is about to open!’

    PP is already building their superstores. Also ‘health clinics will be set up near or inside of schools, won’t that be great? I wonder what they will dispense there or what procedures they will obtain for children – no parental notification needed.

    The fog comes in on little cat feet.. (The smoke of Hell)

  60. Stephen Hand says:

    At least what these nuns do, they do out in the open, with their decisions and the arguments for those decision for everyone to see. What the bishops and their collaborators did was in secret. I wouldn’t use the term ‘misguided compassion,’ father, but rather ‘selective compassion,’ to those raping rather than to those being raped. The bishops acted in secret, silencing victims, and not warning people in in positions to prevent future victims. [This was not always done in malice, though it was – as we are now convinced – done in error] The only reason that we even know of any of this was because the church was outed. For an institution that claims to have privileged access to absolute truth, the church sure lies allot. [Holy Church doesn’t lie. People lie.]

  61. isabella says:

    I would like to hear this post read from our pulpits, but I can’t see many priests admitting the truth of it. One of my aunts was a nun and her Order took care of her until she died after a long illness. She was nothing like these women, she wore a habit, and she was Catholic. She would have chosen to die writhing on the floor before hoping Obamacare passes.

    Oh, and I think most people know (?), but for a daily summary of what happened on the floors of Congress and the texts of available bills: http://thomas.loc.gov/ (Library of Congress site), and you can decide for yourself if abortion funding is in the bill. One of my senators said it wasn’t so I read it to him – actually his aide. The conversation went south from there.

    OTOH, my Congressman is a safe NO and took the floor against the bill either yesterday or the day before.

  62. Kerry says:

    Onerous, if I put just one drop of cow manure into some really terrific ice cream, will you still eat it?

  63. David says:

    BTW, there is abortion in italian hospitals, right next to the chapels with the Blessed Sacrament. The government took over the hospitals. Surprise, surprise.

  64. David says:

    And, of course, men are, ultimately, in charge of nuns. [?]

  65. Kerry says:

    One more thing, nothing, NOTHING, the yammerer in chief says can be believed. (“It will all be on CSPAN”, eight times”) His words have the half life of the trans-uranium elements. If another is discovered it should be named Obamanium.

  66. Oneros says:

    “You have no clue about monetary theory.”

    [This devolved into a rabbit hole and I deleted the rest and some distracting comments that followed.]

  67. EXCHIEF says:

    Forget abortion for a moment. There are a host of other moral evils contained in the bill that warrant stiff opposition.

  68. PostCatholic says:

    No one would know more about a past that “will come back to haunt you” then the Catholic bishops, for sure.

  69. Post: No one would know more about a past that “will come back to haunt you” then the Catholic bishops, for sure.

    Soon, they won’t be alone.

  70. pseudomodo says:

    We have the worlds most excellent equipment and medical experts in Canada. It is not the problem. We have the tools, the know-how and the people.

    We just don’t have ENOUGH of them.

    My specialist, that I waited a month to see, said a month ago that I needed a CT Scan. The hospital called and booked me in near the end of MAY! Then I have to see the specialist 3 week later.

    Some time ago I was told by a nurse that even SHE has to wait 6 months to get a scan.

    Danny Williams, the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador did the right thing by getting his surgery in the US. You CAN get fantastic treatment in Canada – if you wait a year.

    Of course a Newfie should be forgiven for thinking that they have the same standard of health care as the rest of Canada.

  71. Cavaliere says:

    The current bill DOES prohibit federal funding for abortion. Period. That’s just a fact. Any abortion coverage would have to be paid for with private funds separate from the federal credits used to buy the rest of the policy.

    Would you point to the article and line where it says that? Apparently Cong. Bart Stupak does not share your certainity as he has risked his whole career to ensure that language was in the Bill.

  72. ALL: In reading and discussing, don’t get distracted by side issues.

    The liberal sisters have simultaneously neglected to consider the consequences of their support and they have attempted to bestow on themselves a teaching authority they do not and cannot possess.

  73. Stephen Hand says:

    Father, Holy Church does lie. [No. Holy Church does not lie. People belong to the Church can lie.] It astonishes me how much conservatic catholics have in common with soviet communist propagandists, whenever things were not going well they would claim that the reason was that the system was not communist enough. It was never the system’s fault, always the people who ran the system, not being faithful enough to the ideals. The church is made of people, there is no mass entity called ‘the church’ who speaks through oracles, it’s always people.
    That’s why the nuns are not acting like a magisterium, because they take responsibility for their teachings, if they screw up royally, we know where to find them, they can’t say ‘uh, ‘holy church’ told us to do this’, ‘we were just following orders’. The bishops on the other hand are never responsible for what ‘Holy Church’ makes them say or do(unfortunatley there is no nuremburg for these people)and until now had a convenient system that shielded in a dark cloak of secrecy from their errors. [You are confused.]

  74. Jordanes says:

    Et tu, Mr. Hand? Yet another Catholic internet apologist/commentator drifting away from the Faith?

    Holy Church never lies. She does not have the ability to do that.

  75. Ralph says:


    I have e-mailed my Bishop. I want him to know that I support him and that I will not be distracted by the “dissenting catholic” voices. I asked him to prayerfully lead us. I promised him my continued prayers.

    In this horriable time, we need our shepherds. We need them to guide us in this confusing, often evil world.

    Encurage your Bishop. Let him know you support him. Let him know you pray for him. We need him and all his brother Bishops to be strong and lead.

    My opinion.

  76. Ralph says:

    “The liberal sisters have simultaneously neglected to consider the consequences of their support and they have attempted to bestow on themselves a teaching authority they do not and cannot possess.”

    Thank you Father Z. Very well said.

    Bishops – reclaim the authority!
    Priests – reclaim the priesthood!

    I’ll be praying for you!

  77. TNCath says:

    It just occurred to me as I was reading the latest diatribe by Sister Maureen Fiedler on the NCR website: who are these Sisters to tell anyone with a job and health insurance what is best for the country? The abortion issue aside, none of them will ever have to worry about their health insurance (or food or housing or anything else), for they will always be completely covered by their communities at no personal cost to them. Not a bad gig for a “vow” of “poverty.” This “teaching authority” seems to evoke the “Do as I say; don’t do as I do” rule.

    Also, has it not occurred to the dear Sisters that their institutions will bear some very heavy costs to adequately insure their lay employees under this new plan? With their declining memberships and increasingly rising costs to care for their increasingly large number of infirm Sisters, this is a lose-lose proposition for them.

  78. Why are there some commentators here who do not know that the bill supports abortion? I suggest they look at the lines referring to this on http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2010/mar/10031910.html and I suggest the dear sisters do the same, reading the fine print. And why would Stupak be working so hard for anti-abortion language, if it wasn’t there?

    I am afraid those sisters actually support abortion, but I hope people who comment here do not.

  79. mibethda says:

    A very thoughtful and, one would hope, thought provoking article – and headlined with a newly coined, brilliantly appropriate venereal term – perhaps if Lipton ever issues a new edition of his Exaltation of Larks, this would be one to be considered.

  80. “And if you were waiting for a bill that wouldn’t compel taxpayers to cover the cost of abortions, then you’ll vote against this bill because this is, the National Right to Life Committee says, the most abortion-expansive piece of legislation ever to reach the floor of the House of Representatives.”

    Mitch McConnell today and I hope at least one of the sisters on the list heard this…

  81. catholicmidwest says:

    Sisters, what sisters? I see mostly middle aged confused ladies who maybe were sisters a long time ago, but long since walked away from that, and anything to do with me. Besides they know about as much about politics as that hamster there to my left.

    [Fr. Z, I like your cyberhamster. He’s cute.]

  82. Stephen Hand says:

    No Father, I’m not confused. The hierarchy of the church are responsible for the teachings of the church, from passing down from generation to generation what has been handed down to them, presumably from the apostles. If the same institution is shown to be capable of continuous, repeated and systematic dishonesty, it does not deserve to be trusted in areas pertaining to faith. Even more so, the very instinct of protecting those who perpetrate the harm(preferential option for the perverts) rather than the harmed, shows a lack of moral sensitivity. If I can’t trust the institutional structure of the church to even be honest about such basic and deplorable misdeeds, I can’t trust them with telling the truth about much more intangible realities. A fundamental ingredient of basic human trust has been shattered. [Then be hereby instructed. Holy Church does not lie. Individuals who are members of the Church, even groups within the Church, can lie. They do lie. Without reducing Christ to His Church, the Church is the mystical Body of Christ. The Church does not lie. The Church is holy and does not lie, even though her members fail in many ways. The Church cannot be reduced to its hierarchy. If the Church’s hierarchy sin, that means that they are sinners. Their lies don’t make the Church a liar. We can now fill in this rabbit hole.]

  83. Jacob says:

    For those of you who are wondering what plan the Republicans may have, Representative Paul Ryan gave a speech at Hillsdale College:

    Under the terms of our Constitution, every individual has a right to care for their health, just as they have a right to eat. These rights are integral to our natural right to life—and it is government’s chief purpose to secure our natural rights. But the right to care for one’s health does not imply that government must provide health care, any more than our right to eat, in order to live, requires government to own the farms and raise the crops.

    With good reason, the Constitution left the administration of public health—like that of most public goods—decentralized. If there is any doubt that control of health care services should not have been placed in the federal government, we need only look at the history of Medicare and Medicaid—a history in which fraud has proliferated despite all efforts to stop it and failure to control costs has become a national nightmare. In 1966 the cost of Medicare to the taxpayers was about $3 billion. The House Ways and Means Committee estimated that it would cost $12 billion (adjusted for inflation) by 1990. The actual cost in 1990 was nearly nine times that—$107 billion. By 2009 Medicare costs reached $427 billion, with Medicaid boosting that by an additional $255 billion. And this doesn’t take into account the Medicaid expansion in last year’s “stimulus.”

    We are urged today—out of compassion—to support the progressive model; but placing control of health care in the hands of government bureaucrats is not compassionate. Bureaucrats don’t make decisions about health care according to personal need or preference; they ration resources according to a dollar-driven social calculus. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the administration’s point people on health care, advocates what he calls a “whole life system”—a system in which government makes treatment decisions for individuals using a statistical formula based on average life expectancy and “social usefulness.” In keeping with this, the plans that recently emerged from Congress have a Medicare board of unelected specialists whose job it would be to determine the program’s treatment protocols as a method of limiting costs.

    [The Ryan plan]
    One, we should equalize the tax treatment of people paying for health care by ending the current discrimination against those who don’t get health insurance from their jobs—in other words, everyone paying for health care should receive the same tax benefits.

    Two, we need high-risk insurance pools in the states so that those with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage that is not prohibitively expensive, and so that costs in non-high-risk pools are stabilized. To see the value of this, consider a pool of 200 people in which six have pre-existing heart disease or cancer. Rates for everyone will be through the roof. But if the six are placed in a high-risk pool and ensured coverage at an affordable rate, the risk profile of the larger pool is stabilized and coverage for the remaining 194 people is driven down.

    Three, we need to unlock existing health care monopolies by letting people purchase health insurance across state lines—just as they do car insurance and other goods and services. This is a simple and obvious way to reduce costs.

    Four, we need to establish transparency in terms of costs and quality of health care. In Milwaukee, an MRI can cost between $400 and $4,000, and a bypass surgery between $4,700 and $100,000. Unless the consumer is able to compare prices and quality of services—and unless he has an incentive to base choices on that information, as he does in purchasing other goods and services—there is not really a free market. It would go a long way to solve our health care problems to recreate one.

    America today is not as far from this tipping point as we might think. While exact and precise measures cannot be made, there are estimates that in 2004, 20 percent of households in the U.S. were receiving about 75 percent of their income from the federal government, and that another 20 percent were receiving nearly 40 percent of their income from federal programs. All in all, about 60 percent of U.S. households were receiving more government benefits and services, measured in dollars, than they were paying back in taxes. It has also been estimated that President Obama’s first budget alone raises this level of “net dependency” to 70 percent.

  84. Stephen Hand says:

    Before we fill this rabbit, hole Father, I just want to say that I realize what the church teaches about itself and I’m not arguing that the church teaches that it itself can lie. I’m just saying that in light of the way that those responsible for the transmission of the faith handed down from generation to generation handle the truth(in areas that don’t concern dogma), i can’t take this claim that the church makes about itself(that it has access to absolute truth) seriously.

  85. Papabile says:

    In response to oneros:

    This bill absolutely funds abortions.

    It does it through a refundable tax credit for those who are “too poor” to pay the abortion premium.

    Additionally, most PPO’s will move directly to fund abortion, forcing those who are pro-life out of them, or mandating they pay the abortion premium. This will occur because opening abortion coverage will lower the average age of the enrollee. PPO’s have a much higher average age than HMO’s, hence the impetus to push for lower ages.

    That’s just the first of two ways…. There are many more. The USCCB has an excellent 13 page legal analysis.

  86. God will hold accountable these nuns, and all similar Catholics, sooner rather than later. It certainly won’t take decades. Of course every liberal is her own magisterium.

  87. jack99 says:

    Fr. Z,

    As Catholics I think we are so focused on one point that we are missing the broader picture.

    These 7 precepts are the foundation of Catholic social teachings.

    1. Sanctity of human life and dignity of the person
    2. Call to family, community, and participation
    3. Rights and responsibilities
    4. Preferential Option for the poor and vulnerable
    5. Dignity of work and the rights of workers
    6. Solidarity
    7. Care for God’s creation

    The Church has stated that “Every person has a fundamental right to life and to the necessities of life. In addition, every human has the right to what is required to live a full and decent life, things such as employment, health care, and education” [1]

    The Church has also stated “The Church supports private property and teaches that “every man has by nature the right to possess property as his own.” The right to private property is not absolute, however, and is limited by the concept of the social mortgage. It is theoretically moral and just for its members to destroy property used in an evil way by others, or for the state to redistribute wealth from those who have unjustly hoarded it.” [1]

    Our teachings call us to respect the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the person. Does this not mean we should respect the sanctity of ALL life, not just the unborn? What about the sanctity of life of those we need medical treatment but cannot afford it?

    Should someone that needs a medicine that costs $12,000/month and cannot afford that, but yet because this caused him to become disabled and with disability he makes more than the poverty level, he cannot qualify for medical assistance but yet his insurance won’t cover the medicine.

    Should he be left to die without his medicine?

    I know someone who is in that situation in his early 50’s. And it is hard to look him in the eye as he withers away and will soon die. I see a proud vibrant man, who no through fault of his own came down with a disease and now I watch him wither away and dying every day when I stop to see if I can do anything for him. Where is the sanctity of his life?

    Our teaching also teaches us that we need to have an option for the poor. I see poor people turned away from the free clinics daily because of lack of medicines to give them. What about the sanctity of their life?

    Obviously in a perfect world we would have no abortion at all, and we should continue to oppose it. However should we not rejoice in the gains that the health care will gain the poor, the infirm, the needy and the vulnerable people and continue to work on closing the abortion loopholes instead of opposing it outright?

    I have prayed about this diligently, but it comes down to the fact that people will be helped by the reform and saved and those lives are just as precious to me as an unborn child. I am against abortion and I hope that we continue to fight to close the loopholes but can we not rejoice in the fact that now we are in a better position to protect the sanctity of ALL life?

    I know others on this board will call me “socalist” or other names, or tell me I am going to go to hell.

    I look to these teachings and wonder that we shouldn’t be picking and choosing what sanctity of life we protect. We should be protecting all sanctity of life.

    Thanks for the opportunity to state my position. Those of you that feel I am wrong, I appreciate your point of view, I hope that this post explains the considerable thought and debate that I have been wrestling with.

    [1] Rights and Responsibilities, Major themes from Catholic Social Teaching, Office for Social Justice, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

  88. Robert of Rome says:

    Jack 99,

    I thank you for your post. It was prayerful and thoughtful. And it was respectful. I do not entirely disagree with what you wrote. The protection of unborn life is not the only concern that the Catholic Church should voice in the public square, and it is not. But if Catholics do not defend the unborn first and foremost, their care for other poor people is unprincipled, because it is grounded in utilitarian ethics and not in natural law ethics. In an unpublished (but famously leaked) memorandum to the American Catholic bishops in July 2004, the then Cardinal Ratzinger, speaking in his role as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, explained that “not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia” (http://www.priestsforlife.org/magisterium/bishops/04-07ratzingerommunion.htm). In making this statement, the Cardinal was reasoning on the basis of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical letter “Evangelium vitae” (1995).

    The website of the Office of Social Justice of the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis from which you quote your 7 points traces some of these points back to the 1986 pastoral letter of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference entitled, “Economic Justice for All”. I quote from a section of that pastoral letter: “The full range of human rights has been systematically outlined by John XXIII in his encyclical Peace on Earth (Pacem in Terris). His discussion echoes the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and implies that internationally accepted human rights standards are strongly supported by Catholic teaching. These rights include the civil and political rights to freedom of speech, worship, and assembly. A number of human rights also concern human welfare and are of a specifically economic nature. First among these are the rights to life, food, clothing, shelter, rest, medical care, and basic education”(cf. #80).

    So the bishops who are responsible for Catholic social teaching are the same bishops who criticized the health care bill which the House of Representatives passed last Sunday. I believe that Fr. Z’s objections about a group of nuns who intentionally and publicly contradicted the bishops on this point should in no way be interpreted as a lack of concern for human life issues other than abortion. Catholics are bound by the commandments of God, by the virtue of charity, and by the magisterial teaching of the Popes and bishops to care for the physical welfare of other human beings. But Catholics in good conscience may disagree with each other over practical ways of expressing this care. Opposition to this specific health care law cannot be equated with opposition to the Church’s social teaching. Nor can it be equated with indifference to the poor in U.S. society. Nevertheless, the same bishops who are responsible for formulating the Church’s social doctrine evidently do not believe that support for this law can be squared with support for the rights of the unborn.

  89. Robert of Rome: I believe that Fr. Z’s objections about a group of nuns who intentionally and publicly contradicted the bishops on this point should in no way be interpreted as a lack of concern for human life issues other than abortion. … But Catholics in good conscience may disagree with each other over practical ways of expressing this care. Opposition to this specific health care law cannot be equated with opposition to the Church’s social teaching. Nor can it be equated with indifference to the poor in U.S. society.

    Well said.

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